Since the theme around Philadelphia lately is to drop Batman quotes, let’s use another one to address the impromptu drama surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers.
Joel Embiid is Two-Face as in we don’t know what we’ll get from him each night.
The Sixers’ star center had quite a week riling up Philly fans everywhere after head coach Brett Brown and Al Horford were booed last week during a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
It was an opportunity for the fan base to voice their displeasure of the team’s road performance after four-straight away from Wells Fargo Center from Jan. 30 to Feb. 6.
While the Sixers are 25-2 at home this season, they’re 9-19 on the road.
So Horford, who has had his fair share of struggles during his first season in Philadelphia, opted to “shush” the Sixers fans after hitting a few three-pointers against Memphis.
Two nights later, Embiid followed suit by holding his finger up to his lips and telling the crowd to “shut the f—k up” after a late three-pointer to help seal a victory over the Chicago Bulls.
That naturally caught the attention of Philadelphia fans, who need no reason to get riled up as they demanded answers from their star center.
“Just talking to myself. I have not been playing up to my standards,” he said after the game. “Even tonight, you look at the night, I didn’t shoot the ball well and I didn’t play well. Just mad at myself. Just frustrated. Just got to keep trying to get better every single day.”
“I mean, I don’t care how it looks. I’m just playing basketball. Just getting back to myself, just being a good a—hole. Just playing basketball and just trying to dominate.”
But he wasn’t done there.
The 25-year-old took to social media, posting a photo of that now-famous shush with the famous Batman quote, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
His former Sixers teammate and current Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler was quick to respond.
“I know a place where villains are welcome,” Butler wrote.
“Damn right my brother,” Embiid responded.
Cue the panic.
Despite the NBA trade deadline’s passing the week prior, rumors flew that Embiid wanted out of Philadelphia and a trade to the Heat was on deck.
Everyone chose to ignore the fact that a trade to Miami isn’t possible at all. The Heat lack the draft capital and the young talent to put together a proper package to lure Elton Brand into making such a blockbuster deal.
Embiid tried to play damage control, heading back to social media to write, “Made for this… If I can take it then you can too. PHILA TOUGH!!! #AllLove.”
That didn’t do much to smooth things over as fans booed Embiid during Tuesday night’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Though the ferocity of those jeers eased throughout his 26-point, nine-rebound performance that also included a shoving match with Clippers’ forward Marcus Morris.
But he wasn’t out of the woods yet.
“The natural first question for you: Are you the hero or the villain tonight?” TNT reported Jared Greenberg asked.
“I’m always going to be both,” Embiid said. “I start with my city. I love my city. They’ve shown me a lot of love since I’ve been here. You know, we’ve gone through ups and downs. We learn from it. There’s nothing more… Like I said, I’m back to being a good a—hole. Sorry for cussing, but I’m going to do my thing.”
If the Sixers can find a way to win some road games, fans won’t really matter what kind of Embiid is on the floor. But if they continue to fail to live up to high expectations placed upon them this season, the act is going to grow tiresome.